About Coral Gables/South Miami
Coral Gables, developed by George Merrick during the Florida land boom of the 1920’s, is famous for its striking Mediterranean Revival architecture. Known as the “City Beautiful”, Coral Gables stands out as a planned community built on a grand scale with lush, green avenues and buildings embellished with bright colors and ornate details. The downtown commercial district was carefully planned out as a grid, and infamously strict zoning codes exist to this day.
The history of South Miami began at the turn of the 20th century, when the lush farmlands of South Dade brought pioneer W.A. Larkins and his family to the southernmost wilderness at the end of a wagon trail. He started a small dairy and later established a post office at what is now Cocoplum Circle (adjacent to one of the city’s wealthiest gated communities). South Miami, incorporated in 1927, flourished and faltered along with other cities through the war years and devastating hurricanes. Since the 1950’s, the neighborhood has continued to grow and experience redevelopment as people have come to recognize the unique “small town” atmosphere in the “City of Pleasant Living.”
Miami’s Gateway to Latin America
George Merrick predicted that Coral Gables would serve as a “gateway to Latin America”, and indeed it has – becoming the headquarters of numerous international companies including Bacardi and Del Monte. The large Latin American population makes downtown Coral Gables a convenient center of international finance and law.
An abundance of upscale boutiques can be found along Miracle Mile, the center of Coral Gables’ downtown commercial district. The hospitality industry supports high-end leisure and corporate travelers with more than 100 cafes and restaurants. It is also home to the historic Biltmore Hotel, where guests enjoy magnificent old world luxury along with the largest hotel pool in the country. South Miami’s “main street” (Sunset Drive) is a vibrant shopping, dining and entertainment district. The Village of Merrick Park – an upscale, mixed-use retail and residential complex anchored by Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus – and the enormous Dadeland Mall complete the shopping destinations of Coral Gables/South Miami.
Culture in the Suburbs
In 1925, the Coral Gables/South Miami area was chosen as the site for the University of Miami on 230 acres of land adjacent to US-1. The University of Miami provides the community with access to cultural events, lectures, an art cinema, and the Lowe Art Museum. Visitors and residents alike also enjoy the world famous Fairchild Botanical Gardens with its delightful Butterfly House and Chihuly glass sculptures. Coral Gables/South Miami host numerous annual festivals – including the Coral Gables Food and Wine Festival and South Miami Arts Festival – on the main thoroughfares of Miracle Mile and Sunset Drive.
The area supports a new museum and art cinema across from the renowned independent bookstore, Books & Books, sponsor of the largest international Book Fair in the United States. In addition Coral Gables has four live theater groups and many fine art galleries. Excellent municipal services, a high quality of life, and a diversified economy make Coral Gables/South Miami a highly desirable place to live, work, and play.
New Spark for the Condo Market
With strict zoning laws and maximum height restrictions, Coral Gables/South Miami has historically avoided the heavy real estate development projects common in the rest of Miami and Miami Beach. However, the once development-shy area has embraced a number of new and pre-construction projects – including luxury condominium towers like The Collection Residences, Mediterranean Village at Ponce Circle, and Biltmore Parc. The outlook for the area’s condo market is strong with rising prices and increased inventory. Condo median sales prices increased to $217,400 for the area as of 3Q 2015, while total sales dropped slightly due to fewer distressed sales.